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Why are my dcs so clingy, what am I doing wrong?

(11 Posts)
headfairy Thu 04-Aug-11 22:26:18

They are fine when I'm not around, certainly no sobbing for mummy, but when I'm around they clamber all over me. I can't sit down for one minute without them both jumping on me fighting over me. If I hug one then the other is insanely jealous, not content with hugging me aswell but actively pushing their sibling off me (they're 3.10 and 19 mos btw).

I work three days a week but they have a lovely nanny who is very affectionate with them. Indeed I've often left for work with ds and our nanny sitting on the sofa having a cuddle. I usually have 3 hours in the morning with them before work, but I try and make that as pleasant as possible. We have breakfast together, watch some cartoons. They often jump in the shower with me and we have getting dressed races. When I leave they don't hang on to me weeping so I'm assuming they're not too traumatised with me going to work. dh puts them to bed on those evenings and they're fine with him. Both going to bed with barely a whimper.

However when I'm at home it's suffocating how much they cling to me. I've been off work today ill and neither of them have left me alone all day. I've been trying to rest but it's been impossible. Ds has had a friend over to play but he left her downstairs while he tried to climb in to bed with me. Of course as soon as he came up, dd came up too and was hugely jealous of him and started screaming.

At bedtime I told ds I couldn't read him a bedtime story as I usually do when I'm home because I've lost my voice but he got hysterical and started sobbing. I know I should have stood firm but I'm feeling so rough I did just the one story, even so he was weeping when I left him. Normally I sing him a few songs (yes, I know!) and he goes to sleep but tonight I said goodnight and left him and he was beside himself and cried himself to sleep.

Dh says I'm too soft on him and that's why he's so clingy, because he knows I'm a soft touch and that dd is feeding off that. Is he right? Is that why they're so clingy and all over me at other times?

Sorry this is long long and rambling... I don't know if it's normal for toddlers to be like this. My mother and sister have both expressed surprise at how clingy they are. Quite often when we go round to my mum's they'll stay by my side for quite a while at first. Normally both are quite gregarious and outgoing. Ds for example is very happy at ore school, running in to class with barely a backward glance.

Iggly Thu 04-Aug-11 23:14:39

I think if you give plenty of cuddles, the clingy phase will pass. If you don't then they're more likely to become worse. Can you give them quality time individually? Half an hour each of focussed play where they decide what happens.

Plus the heat might be making them feel off too!

colditz Thu 04-Aug-11 23:17:16

Look at how they respond to your husband, and if you think he is a good enough parent(and they aren't clingy with him) ,model your parenting on his.

It would drive me batshit, being mauled all the time!

headfairy Fri 05-Aug-11 11:20:12

colditz it does drive me batshit too... I can't sit down without both of them piling on me. dh is much more of a disciplinarian, but too much more I think. I think he tries to get ds to understand concepts that he's just too young to grasp yet (ie the threat of not getting things he hasn't already got, "if you're naughty I won't get you that Cars2 book/fire engine/Toy Story toy you wanted". Ds just looks non plussed - "what? You're going to take away something I don't have? Bovered!" - I'm paraphrasing there, ds doesn't actually say that grin)

Dh is also naturally less huggy than me anyway (crappy cold distant parents, fairly crap childhood etc, whereas I come from loud shouty emotional family who are always hugging and kissing). Ds has always been much more of a mummy's boy in that he'd always come to me first if he's hurt or upset. Oddly enough dd is the opposite. She's the classic daddy's girl, but I think she takes her cue from ds, if he's jumping all over me for hugs then she doesn't want to miss out. She's very much at the age when she wants whatever ds has, even if she didn't want it much in the first place.

Iggly I do try and give them as many hugs and cuddles as possible, because I'm aware the more I push them away the more they want cuddles. But sometimes it's just impossible. I can't literally hug them all day long. I have to get stuff done. And also, they're not consistent. If ds has a distraction he's fine. This morning for example, I left for work, he'd already disappeared next door to play, and when I shouted across the garden that I was going all I got was a "bye, see you later!"

I think the individual time thing is exacerbated by the school holidays. Normally ds goes to pre-school 3 afternoons a week, and I try and use the time with dd alone to really spend time with her and do something nice. Nothing fancy, just sitting on the floor and playing with her and her toys. It pays massive dividends because I'm sure being a second child she gets overlooked a lot of the time. I try and do the same with ds, in the mornings we usually have half an hour in bed together before dd wakes up, just the two of us, having a chat and a cuddle. The holidays are making it harder to find those times to spend alone with each one.

God, I'm rambling again!

CaptainBarnacles Fri 05-Aug-11 11:26:51

You sound lovely and so do your kids. grin at your DS singing songs before he goes to sleep.

I really recommend the book Playful Parenting. It's hard to explain in a few lines, but it's basically about playing with your kids (including physical play, wrestling etc.). You sound like you do a lot of this naturally anyway (getting dressed races, special playtime with DD etc.). I really found that doing some of the things in the book helped my relationship with my DD no end: rather than being clingy, she would come over spontaneously for a hug and then happily trot off to do something else.

In the book he talks a lot about children getting 'their cup filled' - i.e. emotionally. He is also v.g. on siblings.

I don't think I'm explaining it very well, but I found it very effective, and it sounds like it would fit with your style of parenting.

Gargula Fri 05-Aug-11 11:28:20

I feel your pain. I have a 3yr 9 month old boy and a 16 month old girl and they sound very similar to your two. They never leave me alone and are always scrabbling over me and demanding attention. I have always played with them loads and give them loads of my time, which my DH thinks is part of the problem as most of the time they just wont play without me.

Can't say I have any solutions - roll on september when DS will be in nursery school 5 afternoons a week!

headfairy Fri 05-Aug-11 11:57:00

Aw thanks captainBarnacles blush grin I will definitely look up that book. sounds very interesting. The situation you describe, where the dcs come up for a hug and then trot off to play is what I want to work towards. And not this continuous "cuddle mummy, cuddle mummy" needy cycle which triggers dd off as well. Interestingly ds never used to do the whole "cuddle mummy" thing until my friends ds started doing it (he's 5 months younger than ds and VERY clingy). She was telling me how hard it was as she was heavily pg at the time and her ds was constantly clambering on her and asking for "cuddle mummy" ALL the time. My ds obviously copied this but now he can't break the cycle.

Btw, it's me who sings ds to sleep! arrghhhhh! dh says I need to be firmer with him and just say goodnight and walk out. I've probably been taking the path of least resistance on that one, in thinking that 10 mins of singing is easier than 45 mins of him sobbing and weeping. But dh doesn't sing him songs when he puts him to bed and ds goes to sleep without a whimper. It's just what he's come to expect from me. I did plan on getting him a cd player for his birthday next month, so that he could fall asleep to story cds or songs, but that seems such a long way off right now! And it all started as an easy solution for me to put them both to bed when dd was tiny and dh was working later in the evenings. I used to sing to ds while bfing dd to sleep and manage to get them both off to sleep at the same time. That's come back to bite me on the bum now hasn't it? grin

Hear hear gargula! I cannot wait until Sept 8th!! DS will be back at school 5 mornings a week and I know he'll be better because he'll be much more stimulated while at school - not bored at home with me - and tired as well! grin

CaptainBarnacles Fri 05-Aug-11 12:43:35

Aw, I am obviously just a big softy too, but I don't think there's anything wrong with 5-10 minutes of singing. I think it's often the case that DCs will go to sleep much more easily for their dads - usually because they are stricter more consistent. This is certainly the case with DD. But in a sense, who cares? Obviously nobody wants to lie in the dark for an hour, but so long as it's only five minutes I take the view that it's nice for DD and it's nice (within limits!) for me.

sittinginthesun Fri 05-Aug-11 14:02:37

Hugs. It must be exhausting, particularly if you are ill. My two are older (7 and 4) but both went through clingy/attention seeking phases. I also spend a lot of time playing with them, when they weren't at nursery (I work part time).

I found it easiest to set them off on a particular task. eg I would spend half an hour setting up a fantastic train layout, and would then say - ok, now play for 10 mins whilst I cook tea/have a cuppa/put the washing away etc. If they come looking for attention, I just carried on, and said I'd be back as soon as I finished.

I don't know how it worked, but to did gradually - they understood the difference between time when they had my undivided attention, and time when I was busy.

Right now, they are playing. I can guarantee they'll give half an hour, and then come suggesting a game.

Gargula Sat 06-Aug-11 17:50:14

headfairy re: the singing. I have a lullaby CD for my two which i always put on for bedtime. My nearly four year old still has it and we pop it on, talk about our day, and then leave him to drift off.
I use it for my 16 month old but am basically still rocking her off to sleep (i'm a soppy sod as well!)
Hope you're having a better day!

headfairy Sat 06-Aug-11 21:31:12

Thanks for that gargula that's the sort of thing I was thinking of. I took the easy way out today. Dh is out this evening so I let ds watch cartoons in my bed while I put dd to bed, then we had a cuddle and he went to bed. I only had to sit in there for 5 mins and no songs tonight.

They were much less clingy today but as I've been off all day and on my own with them, I've been able to give them more attention, though I did have to make chocolate cornflake cakes with ds while holding a very whingy dd grin

sittinginthesun it's great to hear there is light at the end of the tunnel!!

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